There are still opportunities to see a soon-to-be-closing exhibition in Crossways on 152 (Hyderabad) Squadron, who played a key role in the Battle of Britain from their Warmwell airfield base. Weymouth resident Rob Oliver tells us about his lifetime of research and helping to reunite these courageous heroes of the skies.

"It was from reading an article in the Dorset Echo in March 1995 that I first learnt RAF Warmwell had been a fighter station during the Battle Of Britain in 1940. After some more digging, I found out that 16 squadrons flew from the base between 1940 and 1945. I decided to focus my research on the 152 squadron.

After contacting The Battle of Britain Historical Society I retrieved the names and contact details for all Battle of Britain pilots. I wrote my letters, asking if any ex-members of the squadron would help me with my research.

Eventually, I received a telephone call from ex-Sargeant Ray Johnson. He said: "Can I ask what you're doing with my squadron?" We chatted for over an hour, and Ray said he was happy to help me, and would contact other ex-members on my behalf. Over the next few days, I got many letters from the men offering help and telling their stories.

At first, I was only interested in the Battle of Britain period, until I got a letter from F/O. Bill Paris in Canada, saying: “Do you know that we served overseas?” I contacted Ray, and he told me the whole squadron history. I was now receiving letters from all over the world, and starting to link up ex-members who had lost touch.

For a while, I would mount my pictures on boards which I would display at events. I had to find ex-members through posting adverts in local papers around the country, and making lots of telephone calls. After building my website in 2002, I have never looked back.

Over the years, I have met and reunited many ex-members of the squadron, including Cyril Potter, Angus Gray, Michael Gardener, and John Anderson. In 2014, I helped arrange for John and Ray to feature on the Channel 4 programme, Guy Martin's Spitfire. I watched with a tear in my eye, feeling so proud that I helped achieve this.

The plaque now displayed at the Spitfire Club in Crossways came about after failing to get a memorial stone in Weymouth to honour the squadrons that protected the south west during the Battle of Britain. I contacted the families of the men I wanted to honour, and set about planning a special day to unveil the plaque.

On September 6, 2015, Dilip Sarkar MBE - one of the top Battle of Britain authors in the country - led the unveiling ceremony. Relatives of the pilots also attended, alongside the Mayor of Dorchester and representatives from the RAF and RAFA.

The plaque is proudly displayed over the bar flanked by two lovely pictures by Barry Weakly.

Throughout all this time, I had been living in Ipswich, Suffolk, which made organising such events a challenge. In 2017, I moved to Brewers Quay, Weymouth, near where my great-grandmother was born in Hope Square.

Being back home and living just down the road from the old RAF Warmwell, I really wanted to try and bring the squadron home. I say 'home' because the squadron spent just under a year at the airfield, while most of their other postings were only for a few months or weeks, including their time overseas during the war.

Since 2018, I've been working on establishing an exhibition of information and photographs at the Spitfire Club, which is built on the site of the old airfield. I look back on the project now and think, I was meant to do this. I want to make sure the pilots' stories are there for others to read, and to remember the sacrifice some of our guys made for us during the Second World War.

Rob's website can be found at and includes extensive information about the squadron.

  • The exhibition, History Through a Lens, will be open at the Spitfire Club on Mount Skippet Way, Crossways, on Sunday, February 16, Sunday, March 1, Sunday, March 8, and Sunday, March 15. Entry is free and visitors are welcome between 12pm and 4pm.